Personal Injury Lawsuits Against NFL Will Increase if Junior Seau’s Family is Successful

footballWith the SuperBowl coming up next weekend and many players suffering from some sort of injury sustained during the season, the recent wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of former pro football star Junior Seau may be getting more media coverage than usual.   Junior Seau retired from pro football in 2010 and committed suicide in May 2012.  Earlier this month, his family revealed autopsy results from the National Institute of Health allegedly concluding that the findings for Junior Seau were “were similar to autopsies of people with exposure to repetitive head injuries”.  Approximately two weeks later, Seau’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the National Football League and a helmet manufacturer, Riddell.

The timing of the lawsuit against the upcoming Superbowl may be mere coincidence, but it does provide almost guaranteed chatter about what, if anything, should be done about the game’s rough physicality on players.  In a recent interview, the President had a few words to say about just that, claiming that if he had a son, he would ”have to think long and hard” before letting him play because of the physical toll the game takes.

…I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence…In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much…

…The NFL players have a union, they’re grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies…You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That’s something that I’d like to see the NCAA think about…

If Junior Seau’s family is able to prove causation, Defendants may have to pay a hefty price on economic damages alone.  Seau was 43 years old when he committed suicide.  Although this is considered “ancient” for a football player, this is quite young from an economic standpoint, with a significant amount of his expected worklife remaining.  Even though he was retired from pro-football, his “star” status and well-known name outside the league (among other things), could allow his “but-for” earnings (i.e., earning he would have attained had he not committed suicide) to be relatively large.   And if Seau’s family is successful, you can bet the NFL will have its hands full with personal injury lawsuits from other players.

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